Corbett administration asks court to reconsider Act 13 decision

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The Corbett administration has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark decision declaring unconstitutional major portions of Act 13, the state’s Marcellus Shale gas drilling law.

A news release from the state Office of General Counsel issued Thursday afternoon said the 162-page Supreme Court decision written by Chief Justice Ronald Castille “made its own sweeping factual findings” that were unsupported by the case record in Commonwealth Court.

It further stated that the decision is “a stunning departure from the historical practice of that Court, and an unrestrained venture into a fact-finding role that the Court always has insisted is not its proper place in the judicial system.”

In a 4-2 vote Dec. 19, the Supreme Court sided with seven Pennsylvania municipalities, a doctor and a river advocacy organization in declaring unconstitutional Act 13’s provisions allowing shale gas drilling anywhere, overriding local zoning laws. The court also declared that the doctor had standing to challenge the law's “gag order” that prevented doctors from telling patients about health impacts related to shale gas development, as well as a constitutional challenge that the law benefits a single industry.

Johnathan Kamin, co-counsel with John Smith for the municipalities and other appellants, said the decision by the administration was both “bizarre” and “disappointing.”

A joint statement issued by Mr. Kamin and Mr. Smith said: ““The PUC’s and DEP’s Request For Reconsideration so that it can implement and utilize unconstitutional legislation is an affront to the Citizens of Pennsylvania, and truly demonstrates the Executive Agencies’ inappropriate stake in this legislation.”


Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.

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